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Peruvian, US firefighters train for aircraft fire evacuations

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Sir Wyrick
  • 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern)

Peruvian and U.S. Airmen engaged in joint training for aircraft structural fire rescue June 3, 2024, in Lima, Peru, as part of the relationship-building exercise Resolute Sentinel 2024.

Peruvian Airmen shared techniques and best practices for handling and extinguishing aircraft fires and rescuing trapped personnel with the U.S. Airmen, who likewise shared their tactics. The fire rescue training was coordinated by the Combined Joint Task Force – RS24 and aimed to prepare the U.S. and partner nations for effective emergency response in areas with limited resources and treatment options.

“This exercise was to familiarize ourselves with host nation helicopters and collaborate on the way to most effectively operate with them,” said U.S. Master Sgt. Gustavo Claudio, 103rd Airlift Wing firefighter from the Connecticut Air National Guard. “With the help of Peruvian Airmen, we established a command post and executed a three-man rescue operation with primary and secondary attack lines. We swiftly deployed the crash truck and communicated with the Peruvian pilot regarding the shutdown procedure. The firefighters executed the rescue, successfully retrieving the pilot.”

The Peruvian Air Force operates different airframes compared to the U.S., including the Mil Mi-17 and the Mi-25. This variation in aircraft provided U.S. Airmen with an opportunity to enhance their combat interoperability.

“Back in the U.S., we have a different set of helicopters we own,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Vanessa Schoening, 106th Rescue Wing firefighter from New York Air National Guard. “It's nice to learn about and work with various helicopters, and explore the differences. On our Whiskeys back home, we are usually putting out fires and entering on the left side of the aircraft, but here everything is reversed, so getting that hands on training is most beneficial. Also, our Peruvian counterparts are getting to see how we do things, and it's really a feed of information for everybody.”

The Airmen participating in the training staged a fire rescue scenario and jointly walked through the steps of putting out a fire and evacuating trapped airmen.

“The most important thing out of this training is demonstrating how we would execute our procedures,” Schoening said. “Even in situations where we don't have some of our preferred resources, we're still going to train and execute in a way that is still faithful to how we would do it back in the States. This is important because we aren’t just putting out fires, but we are also evacuating Airmen and getting them to the medics. This training will potentially help those emergency responses and help save lives down the line.”

Peruvian service members participating in the training were able to also take away a sense of partnership and collaboration.

“I think it was an excellent training,” said Peruvian Air Force Lt. Col. Mandolo Poblete, CJTF-RS24 deputy of helicopter operations. “We always have a good intent from the U.S. Airmen, and they have the best attitude, approaches and success. Not only do they integrate with our air crews, but also with our firefighters from which they are also sharing their tactics, techniques and procedures. So, it helps a lot to improve the expertise of fire firefighters.”

Through facilitating information sharing and enhancing communication with allied nations, there is optimism that the deterrent force of both the U.S. and its allies will be bolstered.

“During our day, we spent training and relationship building,” said Claudio. “It's a dynamic exchange where we're continuously supporting each other. Undoubtedly, it's mutually beneficial for all parties and will help the overall goal of building a stronger and more collaborative allied nation force.”